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Canonical readies Ubuntu 13.10 for cloud duty with OpenStack Havana

11 Oct 2013
Cloud computing

Ubuntu developer Canonical is set to release the latest build of its Linux distribution, Ubuntu 13.10, bundled with the upcoming Havana release of the OpenStack framework for building infrastructure as a service (IaaS) cloud computing environments.

Due to be released on 17 October, Ubuntu 13.10 (codenamed Saucy Salamander) is the latest build of Canonical's popular Linux distribution, and the second to integrate the OpenStack code after the 13.04 release earlier this year. Users will be able to download from the Ubuntu website.

New features are rather thin on the ground for this release, as Canonical and the Ubuntu developer community focus on quality improvements as they work towards the next Long Term Support (LTS) release of Ubuntu, version 14.04 due next April.

One exception to this is right in the core of the platform, with Ubuntu 13.10 now shipping with an updated Linux kernel, version 3.11.

For customers looking to build a cloud using Ubuntu Server, the most significant changes are therefore in the new OpenStack Havana, also due for release on October 17. Havana will also be available to customers on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS.

Mark Baker, product manager at Canonical, told V3 that both Ubuntu and OpenStack are on six-monthly release cycles, and Canonical has synchronised its schedule with that OpenStack so that new versions of its Linux build can come out with the latest cloud enhancements.

The key changes in OpenStack Havana concern the metering module codenamed Ceilometer, and the cloud orchestration module codenamed Heat. Both were "incubated" in the previous Grizzly release, but have been promoted to core modules in Havana.

Ceilometer provides monitoring and data gathering to support billing of customers in a public cloud scenario, or apportioning costs to individual departments and users in a private cloud, Baker said.

Heat, meanwhile, is an orchestration layer designed to allow users to provision specific applications and services. It uses Amazon's AWS CloudFormation template format in conjunction with OpenStack application programming interface (API) calls to create resources such as virtual machines and configure them as required.

Other changes in Havana include load balancing support in the OpenStack Networking module, and greater interoperability with VMware's hypervisor, according to Baker.

This extends support to more sophisticated functions such as vMotion to move virtual machines around, and virtual machines running on ESXi can now make use of OpenStack's Cinder block storage layer.

"A lot of enterprises have big VMware estates and they are looking at how to connect these two pieces," Baker said.

Another improvement is in Ubuntu's Metal-as-a-Service (MaaS) tool for provisioning bare metal servers, which can reduce wait time for a fully operational server from 10 or 11 minutes to 2 or 3, Baker claimed.

Ubuntu's Juju tool can also now manage LXC Linux containers, an OS-level virtualisation technology that enables more workloads to run on a single machine than full virtualisation, potentially reducing cost for service providers, the firm said.

Juju also now supports bundles, which enables a user to automate deployment of an entire stack without the need for scripting, and export that bundle to share with other admins, according to Baker.

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Daniel Robinson

Daniel Robinson is technology editor at V3, and has been working as a technology journalist for over two decades. Dan has served on a number of publications including PC Direct and enterprise news publication IT Week. Areas of coverage include desktops, laptops, smartphones, enterprise mobility, storage, networks, servers, microprocessors, virtualisation and cloud computing.

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